Lead poisoning and other human-related factors cause significant mortality in white-tailed eagles

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/275001
Title: Lead poisoning and other human-related factors cause significant mortality in white-tailed eagles
Author: Isomursu, M.; Koivusaari, J.; Stjernberg, T.; Venäläinen, E.-R.; Hirvelä-Koski, V.
Abstract: The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) suffered a severe population decline due to environmental pollutants in the Baltic Sea area ca. 50 years ago but has since been recovering. The main threats for the white-tailed eagle in Finland are now often related to human activities. We examined the human impact on the white-tailed eagle by determining mortality factors of 123 carcasses collected during 2000-2014. Routine necropsy with chemical analyses for lead and mercury were done on all carcasses. We found human-related factors accounting for 60% of the causes of death. The most important of these was lead poisoning (31% of all cases) followed by human-related accidents (e.g. electric power lines and traffic) (24%). The temporal and regional patterns of occurrence of lead poisonings suggested spent lead ammunition as the source. Lead shot was found in the gizzards of some lead-poisoned birds. Scavenging behaviour exposes the white-tailed eagle to lead from spent ammunition.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/275001
Date: 2018
Subject: Finland
lead poisoning
mercury
mortality factors
White-tailed eagle


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